Jan and Don Stricklan had been married for many years while Don was the pastor of a fundamentalist Christian Church. They retired and moved to Panama City, Florida, a small conservative town on the Gulf Coast.
Eventually Don came to realize that there was a part of him that was not like most of the parishioners that he had been preaching to all those years. Don was a cross-dresser; he enjoyed dressing in women’s clothes. Furthermore, he enjoyed going out in public dressed as a woman.
Because Panama City is a very small and very conservative town, Don pretty much restricted his outings as “Amy Sue” to social functions in Tallahassee with men of similar inclinations.
Don got a part-time job working at the local airport. On his way to and from work, he noticed a sign in front of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship inviting people to come and join them at their services. Often times the sign would say “Acceptance practiced here” or “We believe in the inherent worth of all people.”
One Sunday while Jan was away visiting their daughter, Don decided he was going to put this fellowship to the test. Either these people would accept him as “Amy Sue” in all her splendor or they would have to think twice about what they were putting on their sign. To her surprise and delight, people invited her into the fellowship with open arms. One of the members told Amy, “We need you more than you need us!”
When Jan returned and heard about Amy Sue’s reception, she thought long and hard about also attending the UU service. This turn in Don’s life had thrown her for a loop and she was struggling alone to adjust to this new dimension in her personal life. Finally she decided that she would find out what these Unitarian Universalists were like. Would they accept her as both Amy Sue’s life companion as well as Don’s wife? For the first time she found herself among people who did not judge her situation – who accepted things as they were. And she felt that they understood that she needed as much love, understanding and support as her husband did.